After a significant decrease of the influx of British tourists to Egypt in recent years, international travel agencies have forecasted a promising surge in tourists from the United Kingdom, saying that the number of bookings and flights has witnessed a significant increase during 2018.
Recent statistics indicate that Egypt received 730,000 tourists in February 2018, a 35 percent increase compared to the same month in 2017.
According to a report released by Egypt’s official statistics body the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), Britons ranked sixth in the number of tourists visiting Egypt with at least 26,338 tourists arriving in January.
CAPMAS said that the total number of tourists who visited Egypt in January reached 712,342. Western European countries ranked first with a total of 220,719 tourists, a 47.3 percent jump compared to January 2017.
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The UK imposed a travel ban on direct flights to popular tourism resort Sharm El Sheikh following the downing of a Russian passenger plane over the troubled Sinai peninsula in October 2015, that killed everyone on board.
Speaking to Al-Shorouk newspaper, Moudy Al-Shaer, an official at Blue Sky – Thomas Cook’s global agent in Egypt – said that while the German market is still ranking first in the number of tourists visiting Hurghada and Marsa Alam, there is an increasing number of British tourists visiting Hurghada.
British ambassador to Cairo John Cassin also lamented in February that British tourists to Egypt are beginning to return in large numbers. In early 2018, Thomas Cook announced the launch of direct flights from the East Midlands Airport to Egypt while also declaring a larger number of flights planned for the year, Cassin said.
The ambassador stated at the end of 2017 that Thomas Cook will be resuming flights to the Egyptian city of Marsa Alam in order to accommodate “growing British demand” for Egyptian holidays. Thomas Cook’s suspension of flights to Marsa Alam had been imposed since 2008, but now the airline will operate two flights each week from Birmingham airport and London Gatwick airport.
Meanwhile, Atef Abdul Latif, Chairman of the ‘Travelers’ Tourism Association and a member of the Marsa Alam and South Sinai Investors Associations, said in a press statement that there are very positive signs that British tourism to Egypt in 2018 will surge, particularly in wake of strengthened relations between Egypt and Britain in trade, industry, and tourism.
In a related context, the British Apta travel association released its annual travel trend report in which it expected a strong return of British tourists to Egypt and Tunisia in 2018 after years of anxiety over political unrest and terrorism. The report explained that the negative effects of the last period, including flights being discontinued and travel warnings being issued, have now been overcome.
The CAPMAS report added that the Eastern European countries came in second, growing 55.5 percent compared to the same month last year with the total number reaching 183,465.
Egypt’s tourism sector, a key source of foreign currency, was badly hit in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising when social unrest rocked the country.
By Hend AL-Behary
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